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Hubertus Franzen

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Hubertus Franzen (* September 12th, 1934 in Mausbach (Stollberg) is a German cultural manager and writer

Hubertus Franzen studied amongst others voice and church music at the Music Conservatory in Cologne, Germany. In 1960 he was a laureate of the International Singing Competition in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. He appeared as tenor nationally as well as internationally, amongst others with the Zagreb Soloists under Antonio Janigro. As harpsichordist, Hubertus Franzen regularly performed with the Complesso di Musica Antica, Florence, Italy.

1970 Franzen was assigned the position as Dramaturge for Opera and Concert at the Städtische Bühnen Mainz, Germany. He was author and speaker of the satirical series "Spitz und Scharf" at Südwestfunk (German Public Radio). From 1972 to 1981 he was Director of the Cultural Office in Hilden, Germany, as well as Dean of Continuous Education. In his position Franzen founded concert and theatre series with more than 4,000 subscribers, which prompted the City of Hilden to build its own concert venue. Together with the conductor Franz Lamprecht, Hubertus Franzen was the founder of the Oratorio Choir Hilden. He organized critical acclaimed art exhibitions, like a Käthe Kollwitz retrospective and an exhibition with Rembrandt drawings.

As a result of Franzen's cultural-political commitment, the City of Hilden was able to retain its independence during the incorporation debates in North-Rhine-Westphalia under Prime Minister Rau. Following this diplomatic achievement, Franzen was nominated as a non-partisan candidate by the German party CDU for the Office of Cultural Affairs in Frankfurt, Germany, but was defeated by the incumbent Hilmar Hofmann.

Franzen's book "Hilden, as it was", was published 1977 by the Droste Verlag Düsseldorf, Germany.

In 1981, Hubertus Franzen became Artistic Director and Administrative Director of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. Together with their Chief Conductor, Sergiu Celibidache, he contributed significantly to the growing international fame of the orchestra. Under his administration the number of subscribers increased from about 1,900 in 1981 to over 15,000 in 1985, with several additional concert series in Munich's new concert hall 'Gasteig". Franzen arranged the orchestra's first US tour in 1985 under the baton of Lorin Maazel and founded the "Society of Friends and Supporters of the Munich Philharmonic" involving public personalities from Munich. He commissioned new works from the most important contemporary composers like Gottfried von Einem, Hans Werner Henze, Siegfried Matthus, Luigi Nono and Krzysztof Penderecki.

In 1982 he founded the "Festive Summer of the Munich Philharmonic". Conductors of the 1st edition of the festival included Sergiu Celibidache, Eugen Jochum, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Lorin Maazel. For the opening of the concert hall ' Gasteig' in the fall of 1985 Franzen invited amongst others the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Kurt Masur and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Lorin Maazel. Franzen and the City of Munich parted ways by mutual agreement after Franzen brokered a five-year sponsorship agreement between the Munich Philharmonic and Audi AG, without prior consent of the Munich City Council.

1988 Franzen took over the role of Manager of the NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, Germany, under the Chief Conductor Günter Wand. In addition to two existing concert series in the Hamburger Musikhalle, he established 3 additional concert series in Hamburg, as well as a concert series in Kiel and in Lübeck. Under his management tours led the NDR Symphony Orchestra to Argentina, Brazil and Japan. He was able to win the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki as Principal Guest Conductor for the Symphony Orchestra of the NDR.

In 1991 Franzen moved to Leipzig, Germany, where he became Head of the MDR Orchestra Department (German public radio). In 1992 he founded the festival MDR Musiksommer in the three host provinces of the MDR, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. In addition, he established concert series for the MDR orchestras in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Düsseldorf, thus promoting the new provinces after the German re-unification. Guest orchestras of the MDR Music Festival included the Vienna Philharmonic under Riccardo Muti, the Milan Scala Orchestra under Carlo Maria Giulini, the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and others, and well-known soloists such as Anne Sophie Mutter, who opened the MDR music summer in 1995 with the world premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki's 2nd Violin Concerto under Mariss Jansons.

In the season 1992/93 Franzen co-founded, in collaboration with the Intendant of the Semper-Oper Dresden, the series "Masters at the Semper Opera" and in parallel the "Master Interpreters" at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. The first season saw performers like Maria João Pires, Bruno Leonardo Gelber, Shlomo Mintz and Rudolf Buchbinder. In addition, Franzen initiated several additional concert series of the MDR Symphony Orchestra, the MDR Chamber Philharmonic and the MDR Choir in the cities of the MDR broadcasting territory ​(Erfurt, Halle /Saale, Magdeburg and Weimar).

In 1995 Franzen invited Fabio Luisi, Manfred Honeck and Marcello Viotti as principal conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra. Among the guest conductors of the MDR and the MDR Music Summer in the Franzen era were Enoch zu Guttenberg, conducting amongst others Bach's masterpieces St. Matthew Passion, the Christmas Oratorio and the Mass in B Minor. Highlights of the 1993 and 1998 seasons were the Vatican concerts of the MDR on the occasion of the 15th and 20th anniversary of the election of John Paul II. In the concert on October 16, 1998, Krzysztof Penderecki conducted his Te Deum dedicated to John Paul II. Franzen was also co-organizer of the world premiere of Penderecki's "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" on the occasion of 3000th year anniversary of Jerusalem under the direction of Lorin Maazel with the MDR Choir, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. The main part was sung by Boris Carmeli, a survivor of Auschwitz, a singer whom Franzen had previously hired as soloist for the Vatican concerts of the MDR and as Evangelista in the Lukas Passion by Penderecki as part of the MDR concerts.

The collaboration between Franzen and Walter Blovsky, Managing Director of the Vienna Philharmonic, led to a collaboration between the MDR Choir and the Vienna Philharmonic, culminating in the opening concert of the Wiener Festwochen in 1987, conducted by Riccardo Muti and celebrating 850 years of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. Other collaborations included two subscription concerts in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein and in La Scala.

In 1998 Franzen was appointed Member of the Board of the "German Society for the Preservation of the Art Treasures of the Vatican Museums". Purpose of the society was the restoration of frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, funded through charity concerts in the Pontifical Museums (Cortile Ottagono and Capella Sistina). These concerts raised the fund for the restoration of the fresco "The Death of Moses" by Luca Signorelli in the Sistine Chapel.

Franzen was also involved in the founding of the "Festival the Musica e Arte Sacra" in Rome with the Vienna Philharmonic as orchestra in residence.

Since 2002 Hubertus Franzen devotes his time exclusively to his literary work. He is the author of several historical novels. The Giessen Newspaper reprinted his book "The Death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the Goldner Hirsch zu Salzburg 1851", in 2006, celebrating the Mozart Year.


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